What is this winter hellscape that continues to follow me from city to city? I’ve been trying to lose it since I left the last of my long five Ottawa winters in 2010.
According to locals, Seoul had its worst couple of winters in years my two seasons there. I briefly lived at the top of a giant and steep hill that was covered in ice all winter. My walk to work was terrifying, to say the least, and I taught classes all day in my winter coat. When I moved back to Ontario, I decided on Toronto in part because winters are usually milder. I believe it was 2013 that Toronto was slammed with an ice storm that knocked out my power for 5-6 days, including Christmas Eve. Doug and I huddled in bed in our winter attire, snuggling the cat. We kept lit candles a bit too close to the bed, risking engulfing ourselves in flames for the slightest amount of warmth. Plus, I’m pretty sure a bunch of people died that winter with CO poisoning from lighting barbeques in their apartments?
I remember drinking whisky in our dark apartment with friends trying to keep ourselves warm and entertained. I sure do remember retching in the pitch black and freezing bathroom in my winter coat the next morning. Elements that make a hangover from hell even worse.
We’d walk over to restaurants that still had power, unshowered, with all of our devices so we could plug in, get a charge, and order a hot meal. We’d eventually outstay our welcome and have to head back to walk-in-freezer apartment.
I left all of that behind when I moved to mild and rainy-wintered Victoria, BC.
Sour cream for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss beets and cauliflower in half of the olive oil with some salt and wrap the bulb of garlic in tin foil. Place the vegetables and the wrapped garlic on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour. When a knife can easily be pushed through the centre of the beets, they’re ready. Let the beets cool for 10 to 15 minutes before peeling.
Heat the rest of the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat and add onions to the pot with salt and pepper. Cook about 5 to 10 minutes until softened and add the bay leaves. Cook another couple of minutes and add the stock, beets, cauliflower, garlic, dill, lemon juice, and cover the pot to bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes.
Take the soup off the heat, remove the bay leaves, and blend the soup with an immersion blender, or in small batches in a standing blender. Bring the soup back to a simmer and add the cream. Simmer 5 to 10 more minutes and serve, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and sprig of dill.